Categories > Books > Outsiders > Epiphany0 Reviews
“Dallas … Dallas …”
“I hear you,” Dally snapped. He was fully aware that the voice was calling out to him, but mentally he was still back at the DX, watching Steve speed away in his second stolen car of the night. He couldn’t understand why he had felt concerned for Steve. Why he had actually cared about what would happen to him. Steve was a big boy and he could take care of himself. If he could get into a mess, then he could certainly get himself back out of it—one way or another. But things were different in this Tulsa, Dally realized. Things seemed darker and less familiar. So it made sense that even his emotions were all out of whack.
“Do you know where you are now?” The voice asked, cutting into his thoughts.
Dally took a look around. He was standing at the edge of a large expanse of grass surrounded by tall bleachers on either side. “It looks like the high school football field,” he replied flatly.
“Exactly,” the voice said, almost cheerfully. It made Dallas want to gag.
“So who am I going to see here? Ponyboy? Johnnycake? Sodapop perhaps?” Dally asked with mock enthusiasm. Although he was serious, and would have accepted an answer, he couldn’t help but act up a little bit. It was who he was.
“Haven’t you learned anything yet? You need to be patient …”
Dally rolled his eyes. More games. He hated not having control of the situation. It drove him nuts to be at someone else’s disposal.
Maybe that was why he had dropped out of school when he was still a kid. Even then, he had had enough of the authority figures that walked the school halls and graced the morning announcements. He wanted more in life than to be told what to do. He wanted to have the sufficiency to get things done all by himself, on his own time, by his own rules. Get tough and nothing can touch you—such a philosophy had worked well for him over the years. In fact, it was the only way he knew to survive.
As he stood in thought, Dally noticed a group of teenagers dressed in their gym clothes come filing out onto the field. A single teacher lugging bags of equipment wasn’t far behind.
Physical Education—what a waste of time, he thought. He had never liked that class, even as an overanxious kid with too much energy.
Dally walked over to where the students were gathering and climbed up into the bleachers, taking a seat in the first row. He squinted, straining to pick out a familiar face from the crowd. He couldn’t find anyone so he listened as the teacher began to call roll. Finally, one name stuck out.
“Mathews, Keith!” The teacher yelled.
There was no response.
“Mathews, Keith!” He yelled again, his face getting visibly angry this time.
Still no response.
“You’ve got one more try, Mr. Mathews,” the teacher muttered, unimpressed. “Mathews, Keith!”
“I’m here … Okay?” Came the monotone reply.
Dally was slightly perplexed. What? No joke or off the wall comment? And why did the teacher call him Keith? Two-Bit had always bragged about the fact that, even in school, his nickname got precedence over the one his mother had given him.
The voice didn’t supply any explanation like it had for Steve, so Dally sat and watched the class period unfold. They were breaking up into groups of boys and girls—the boys were getting set to throw some footballs around and the girls were breaking out a bunch of jump ropes. It looked like a dull way to spend the afternoon.
Two-Bit had always been good at football. Whenever they had played in the lot, Dally was always thankful to have him on his team—although he was no Darry, but that was neither here nor there. Dally reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his pack of cigarettes again. He lit one and puffed on it as he eyed the students. He noticed that Two-Bit had been paired up with a tall, lanky, redheaded boy. He was a dorky kid, obviously more well off in the money department than Two-Bit was—even his sweatpants seemed pressed and clean—and he didn’t seem to have a clue as to what he was doing. He took the ball that he was given and heaved it over at Two-Bit.
Two-Bit walked forward, struggled to make a catch, and then shook his head. “You know, the rest of the girls are playing with the jump ropes.” He called out. “If you can’t throw the damn ball right, I suggest you head over in that direction.” He pointed to where the girls were and then sneered at the boy across from him.
“Sorry, Keith,” the red head mumbled. “I’m no good at football. I’ll try to do better next time.”
Dally smiled as he took another deep puff from his cigarette. Didn’t this kid know better than to be scared of old Two-Bit? And what was with this Keith stuff?
Two-Bit adjusted the ball in his hands and threw it back. It spiraled perfectly through the air with just enough lift and speed. Even though it was a flawless throw, the boy batted it to the ground and bent over to pick it up instead. He looked up at Two-Bit and was met with an icy glare. He sort of shrugged a little bit and then prepared to make his next throw. This time it didn’t just make it to Two-Bit, it sailed over his head.
Two-Bit turned and walked calmly to where the ball was laying in the grass. “I’ll show him…” He muttered under his breath. He picked up the ball and quickly turned back toward the other boy, beaming the ball right at him. Since he wasn’t even paying attention, the ball nailed him right in the head—hard.
“Hey!” He yelled, startled. He opened his mouth to say something else, but Two-Bit beat him to it.
“That’s what you get, punk!” Two-Bit yelled, his eyes wild and angry. “Next time it’ll be my fist slamming you in the face!”
“Keith!” It was the teacher. “I saw that. I’m not going to have you turning my class into a free-for-all again! Now go and sit over there in the bleachers.” He pointed right to where Dally was. “Michael, you can throw with me over here.”
Two-Bit muttered something and sluggishly walked over to the bleachers. He sat about three feet down from Dally and leaned forward against the railing. He watched the students contentedly, like he was taking notes or something—like he was mentally recording their strengths and weaknesses. He seemed for all the world like a bully, something that the Two-Bit Dally knew never was. Instead of spouting insults and threats, the Two-Bit Dally knew would have been cracking jokes and pulling pranks instead. Come to think of it, he hadn’t raised an eyebrow or flashed his trademark Cheshire grin once this whole time… That had to be a new record or something.
As if on cue, the voice began to explain. “He’s different than the boy you knew, Dallas.”
Dally blew smoke over at where Two-Bit was still sitting. “No shit?” He asked. He didn’t like it when people talked down to him and pointed out the obvious. He may have dropped out before he learned how to multiply and divide and spell big words, but he was no idiot.
The voice didn’t respond to his reply, but rather continued. “Two-Bit isn’t Two-Bit anymore. He’s just Keith now, an angry eighteen-year-old that hates school, has a penchant for picking fights, and keeps landing himself in jail. It all started when he was arrested for breaking some school windows.”
Dally thought for a moment. Windows? That sounded really familiar. Were these the same school windows that he had taken the blame for that one time? It certainly wasn’t some huge deal. The cops, naturally, thought he did it so they came and hauled him in. He didn’t bat an eye over it, they were just windows for Christ’s sake, and the jail time was hardly anything severe. This new scenario didn’t make any more sense than the whole thing with Steve.
“I don’t believe it,” Dally scoffed. “So I took the fall for something Two-Bit did—big deal. If he had gone to jail instead of me, it wouldn’t have changed anything. Two-Bit would always be Two-Bit no matter what. The joking and wisecracks are all a part of him and his personality. No stint in jail would stifle that.”
“But it did,” the voice replied haughtily. “Without you to take the blame, Two-Bit’s path and hence his personality have greatly changed. He’s a little colder and meaner, now. He’s not the jovial spirit that kept the gang in stitches.”
“I still think that’s a load of crap,” Dally muttered. He turned to look at the friend in question and noticed that he wasn’t at his seat down the bleachers anymore.
Dally stood up and leaned over the railing, craning his neck to see if he had been called back onto the field. When he didn’t see him out with the rest of the kids, he flicked his cigarette to the ground and walked off of the bleachers. He looked back towards the school—nothing. Where had he gone?
After a moment, Dally heard some shuffling behind him. He turned and saw Two-Bit, crouched down by a pile of book bags and jackets—it must have been the last session of the day, because everyone had brought their belongings out with them.
He watched silently as Two-Bit carefully sifted through each bag. He lifted out wallets and girl’s purses and took anything that he deemed valuable—money, cigarettes, rings, and sometimes necklaces that had to be taken off until gym class was over. When he was satisfied that he had found enough, or just wary that the class could be ending soon, Two-Bit grabbed his own book bag and leather jacket from the pile and headed toward the field’s concession stands. He went into one of the bathrooms and came out, greased up and wearing jeans and a flannel shirt instead of his gym uniform. Then he headed off school grounds.
Dally shook his head and followed. Some things never changed. Two-Bit had always been something of a kleptomaniac.
As they walked farther away from the school, Dally could feel Two-Bit’s pace quickening, so he sped up his gait, trotting more than walking. He lagged behind a little bit, keeping an eye on his friend. He watched as Two-Bit entered every store on the block, looked around for a bit, and left with a souvenir—free of course via the five finger discount. At one stop he even took the time to cuss out the cashier for having him arrested sometime earlier. Arrested? The voice had mentioned that he found himself in and out of jail quite frequently now …
As they journeyed farther into town, Two-Bit and Dally came upon two blondes, standing at a bus stop. They were greasy girls, decked out in tight jeans and low cut shirts, and they were all done up for an evening at The Dingo or Jay’s. They looked older than they probably were, but with Two-Bit’s propensity for blondes, Dally figured age didn’t matter much. Besides, girls that looked like that were just asking for attention. It would almost be rude not to give them what they were so obviously craving.
Dally stood back and watched as Two-Bit approached them. Although he was serious and mean now—heck, he went by Keith for crying out loud—he most likely still had his way with the ladies. He swaggered their way, easily catching the girls’ attention. They both eyed him, looking interested.
Dally saw a sly smirk spread across Two-Bit’s face. Here it comes, he thought. Here comes one of his smooth lines.
But, instead of flirting, Dally was shocked to see Two-Bit pull out his switchblade and hold it up at the two blondes. “Now I’ll make this simple for you two,” he said in a low voice, looking from one to the next. “Just give me any money or valuables that you might have and I’ll be on my way.”
The first blonde opened her mouth like she was about to protest and say something. Dally could imagine her disbelief. They were standing out in the open, on a semi-busy street corner and some hood was jumping them for their valuables? The Two-Bit he once knew would have stolen a kiss from girls like them, not money or jewelry.
“Listen, Sweetheart,” Two-Bit hissed before she could get any words out. “Don’t give me any trouble and I won’t hit your pretty face. Just give me what I want—that’s all. No big deal, right?”
The girl looked terrified. She reached into the back pocket of her jeans and pulled out a five dollar bill. Then she slowly and tentatively handed it to Two-Bit. “It’s all I got mister,” she said quietly, “I swear.”
Two-Bit quickly grabbed it and put it into his own back pocket. “Thanks, now what about your friend?”
The second blonde looked to the first blonde and then over to Two-Bit. Two-Bit flashed his switchblade again.
“I … I … I don’t have any money,” she stammered. “I ain’t got a job yet. I’m only fifteen.”
Two-Bit narrowed his gray eyes and stared at her. “Is that so? Then I’ll just take that locket you’re wearing,” he said quickly.
The girl unconsciously reached up to her neck, looking defeated. Sure enough, the shiny gold chain of a locket was sitting up on top of her shirt—so much for having it go unnoticed. She looked like she was going to cry.
“My boyfriend gave me this,” she said timidly. “He’s locked up for the next year and half and it’s all I’ve got left of him.”
Two-Bit shook his head. “Do you think a little sob story like that is going to make me change my mind?” He asked quietly. Then he raised his voice. “Hand it over!”
The girls both jumped, shaken by his sudden shouting.
“I mean it. Give me the locket,” Two-Bit said, his voice menacing.
The second blonde looked at her feet and carefully removed the locket from around her neck. She handed it over to Two-Bit, her eyes filled with tears.
Two-Bit took it from her and opened it up. He glanced at the pictures inside and then smirked at her. “What a cute couple,” he cooed. He turned to walk away and then hesitated. “Look, Beautiful,” he said after a moment, shoving the locket into his back pocket with the other blonde’s money. “If you’re still sore about this in a year and a half, you can tell your hood of a boyfriend that Keith Mathews took your locket. If he wants to get it back for you, he can find me around town. Okay?”
The girl silently nodded. She looked at her friend and then they both ran off down the street. Two-Bit laughed to himself and sat down on the curb, waiting for the bus.
Dally couldn’t decide if he was appalled or impressed. If that had been him, he wouldn’t have felt guilty for jumping a pair of underage girls and he probably would have cheered Two-Bit on for doing it too. But seeing as how the whole situation and all the events leading up to it were different, it just didn’t seem right.
It didn’t seem like Two-Bit at all …
While jail would make the average guy cold and mean, a guy like Two-Bit would certainly have the resiliency to withstand all of that. A guy like Two-Bit would have been able to make friends and tell jokes, to keep the mood light and airy. He would have had no problem in jail. If anything, he would have been bored and that was all.
When the bus finally pulled up to the curb, Dally followed Two-Bit on. He didn’t offer a friendly hello to the driver, just handed over a few loose coins and made his way to the back of the bus. He gave a dirty look to some younger teenagers and then took his seat.
As the bus drove down the street, Two-Bit shuffled his book bag on his lap and opened it up. Dally noticed that the only things in it were his gym clothes and the items that he had collected over the course of the afternoon. No text books, of course.
Two-Bit gathered up all the money that he had collected and carefully counted it. He double checked his count and then folded it neatly, stuffing it into his jacket pocket. Then he pulled out the other items—rings, candy bars and other trinkets from the stores he had recently been in, the blonde’s locket—and placed them on the seat next to him. He arranged them in some unknown order and put the more valuable things into his jacket pocket with the money. Then he shoved the rest of the items into the bag’s front pocket.
After about fifteen minutes, Two-Bit stood up and signaled to the bus driver that he wanted to get off. The bus pulled over to the curb and both Dally and Two-Bit hopped out and onto the sidewalk.
They were in front of a little down town park. Dally had only seen this place at night, when he had gotten some kicks by rolling the drunks that stumbled off the bus from the seedy part of town. It looked really different in the daylight.
Dally followed Two-Bit into the park and down some rolling pathways lined with brightly colored flowers. They walked around a bubbling fountain and toward a row of benches that were shaded by the large oak trees that loomed overhead. Everything looked happy and clean, except for a single ragged bum that was laying on one of the benches. Two-Bit had noticed him too. He coolly and silently walked over toward him.
Is he gonna jump this guy too? I can’t imagine that he’d have anything worth taking, Dally thought. He watched as Two-Bit sat down on the bench by the guy’s feet. He grabbed him by one ankle and started shaking him slightly.
“Hey, Darrel, wake up …”